UN's New Afghan Envoy Heartened By Talk Of Peace

Published January 25, 2012 9:18AM (EST)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The U.N.'s new representative to Afghanistan says that while the country remains dangerous, he is encouraged by widespread discussion across the country about prospects for peace with the Taliban.

Jan Kubis, the new special representative of the U.N. Secretary-General, says he thinks people are tired of the 10-year war and are interested in supporting steps that would bring more stability and eventually peace to Afghanistan.

Talking to reporters Wednesday in Kabul, Kubis cautioned that Afghans need to lead the way to peace and that no major, relevant party can be excluded from the discussion.

The U.S. has engaged in secret talks with Taliban figures, and the Afghan government and other regional players have also opened lines of communication with the insurgency.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan defense spokesman said Wednesday that it is unclear whether the Afghan soldier who turned on French troops and killed four of them was motivated by a video purporting to show U.S. Marines desecrating Taliban insurgents' bodies, or for some other reason.

Defense Ministry Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said an investigation is ongoing into the attack, and would not confirm speculation the video was a motivation. He said the recruit involved was 21 years old, and had been in the Afghan National Army less than three months.

"Our initial investigation is not completely clear," Azimi said.

The 39-second video, which showed what appeared to be Marines urinating on the corpses of Afghans, drew immediate condemnation from all sides when it surfaced on YouTube earlier this month.

The U.S. military promised to investigate and punish those involved, but the video's wide distribution has threatened to sour relations between Afghans and the international troops working to train the national army to take over security by 2014.

French investigators are traveling to Afghanistan to assist the investigation into the attack, which prompted France to immediately halt training programs for the Afghan military and threaten to pull its forces out of the country earlier than planned.

Last week's attack was latest of several by an Afghan soldier on international troops working with the national army. There have been more than a dozen such turncoat attacks in two years, although the U.S.-led coalition says they are isolated incidents that do not point to a wider trend nor to organized Taliban infiltration.

By Salon Staff

MORE FROM Salon Staff

Related Topics ------------------------------------------